Two sisters went away to college for four years.

In restating the above, which of the following sentences is correct?

  1. Both sisters went away to college.

  2. Each of the sisters went away to college.

I've been told "both" implies that the girls went to the same school (they didn't). I maintain that "each" should be used with more than two.

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    Both are perfectly correct. 1 does not imply that they went to the same school, and 2 does not imply that there were more than two sisters. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 12 '14 at 21:05
  • Both should be preferred , each sounds silly in case of only two sisters to me . – Argot Jan 12 '14 at 21:32
  • @Argot: "away" has meaning here; without it, you can "go to college" and also stay home. – Peter Shor Jan 12 '14 at 22:02
  • I suggest left for rather than went away for – mplungjan Jan 12 '14 at 22:04
  • @PeterShor oh , I just didn't think of possibility of someone going away for 4 years,it makes much more sense now. – Argot Jan 12 '14 at 22:06

I would say "Both sisters went away to college.".

  • 1
    Please visit the Help Center for guidance on providing helpful answers. As this is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum, personal opinion is most valuable when backed with reasoning and references. – choster Jan 12 '14 at 22:57

Both is fine, and does not imply the same college.

If I say "both of my brothers went to live abroad", it implies they went to different places, otherwise I'd have said "both of my brothers went to live in America".

The same works for all places - e.g. colleges.

I also wouldn't use "of" after "each", just say "each sister" - and this implies more then two sisters in my opinion.

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    it does not imply they went to different places, but it does encourage that inference over the contrary expectation that they went to the same place. – virmaior Jan 12 '14 at 22:15

"Both" can only be used with two, and the reader typically needs previous knowledge that there are two of them, or the sentence will sound strange. For example, "There were two sisters, and both went away to college."

With "each", knowing a precise count is optional.

Perhaps these are the reasons why, to my ears at least, "each" implies there are more than two -- if the preceding text gives a count of two, I would expect the writer to use "both", a word that exists just for such a situation.

However, on the other point raised, I think "both" does slightly connote that they did go to the same school -- common phrases that use the word tend to have a tighter coupling of the subjects. For example we "look" and "see" with both eyes, not with each eye. Or the old joke "They both got married -- to someone else." I'd argue this is a pretty mild effect, though.

As a side note, it's interesting that (if you omit "of the") the plurality changes: "Each sister is wearing blue;" "Both sisters are wearing blue."

That said, I agree with Janus, each is perfectly correct ;-)

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